Which U.S State Has the Highest Maternal Mortality Rate?

Pregnant woman (SLO County)

Pregnant woman (SLO County)

You wouldn’t necessarily guess that *any* state in the U.S. has a high maternal mortality rate (i.e. mothers who die due to pregnancy- and birth-related complications), but one has that dubious honor. And that is the great state of Texas.

In the September issue of medical journal Obstretics and Gynecology, a report found the following:

The maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

Bet you didn’t expect that, right? (I certainly didn’t.) But how bad is it really?

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

Texas is part of the developed world, so the maternal mortality rate surge cannot be explained by “war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval.” So what is it?

In recent years, Texas has severely decreased women’s access to spaces that offer medical services for reproductive health. In 2011, “the Texas state legislature cut $73.6M from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5M.” This measure resulted in 80 clinics closing across the state. Planned Parenthood clinics were also completely eliminated, which cut off access to reproductive health measures for lower-income women especially. Planned Parenthood had previously served 130K+ women across the state.

While Texas restored the family planning budget to its original level in 2013, the damage was already done: Many clinics are still struggling to provide the same level of care and service they provided before the cut. But Texas clinics are now offering free IUDs, so there’s some hope they’ll be flourishing soon.

 

 

 

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Diversity Amongst Principal Dancers in Top Ballet Companies: By The Numbers

San Francisco Ballet's Yuan Yuan Tan and Davit Karapetyan in George Balanchine's 'Scotch Symphony,' 2012 (Odette's Ordeal)

San Francisco Ballet’s Yuan Yuan Tan and Davit Karapetyan in George Balanchine’s ‘Scotch Symphony,’ 2012 (Odette’s Ordeal)

It’s a well-known fact that classical ballet companies aren’t known for their diversity. With the news that American Ballet Theatre (ABT) dancer Misty Copeland has been promoted to principal, I was curious to see just how (non-) diverse the major ballet companies are.

First, I identified the top classical ballet companies in the U.S.: ABT, New York City Ballet (NYCB), San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Houston Ballet. (I didn’t look at Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet because the company doesn’t use traditional levels, as far as I could tell.)

Next, I looked at each company’s roster, looking for diversity. I decided to narrow my search to solely the principal dancers to save time. I then made a spreadsheet of my findings:

Principal Dancer Diversity at Top Ballet Companies Excel Spreadsheet

Principal Dancer Diversity at Top Ballet Companies Excel Spreadsheet

The first glaring thing is none of the companies have any Black principals at this time. (Copeland will change that when she begins her new position in August.) Every company listed has at least one principal of Asian descent, and San Francisco has two.

Here’s how the various companies break down.

American Ballet Theatre (ABT):

ABT has 15 principal dancers. Four Latino/Latina dancers make up 25%+ of the company’s diversity.

Houston Ballet:

Houston Ballet has the smallest group of principals with just eight dancers. The one Asian dancer and one Latina dancer combine to make up 25% of the diversity.

New York City Ballet (NYCB):

NYCB has the highest number of principal dancers at 24. Latino/Latina dancers comprise 12%+. Though not noted above, NYCB also features one dancer of South Asian descent.

Pacific Northwest Ballet:

This company has the worst diversity score. No Black or Latino/Latina dancers, and only one Asian dancer, in a group of 12 principals.

San Francisco Ballet:

With six dancers among 20 principals, San Francisco Ballet’s Latino/Latina contingent make up 30% of that company’s diversity, the largest of the studied cohort. Though not noted above, the company also features one dancer of South Asian descent.

Sofia Vergara’s Frozen Embryos: Is There A Precedent for IVF Egg Custody?

Sofia Vergara (Celebrity Post)

Last week, “Modern Family” actress Sofia Vergara’s former fiancé Nick Loeb penned an op-ed for “The New York Times” regarding Vergara’s frozen eggs. The pair had initially frozen the eggs via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) in case they later wanted children, before their relationship ended last year. (Vergara is currently engaged to “True Blood” actor Joe Manganiello.) Now Loeb wants to unfreeze an eggs to implant within a surrogate, and have a child using his ex-fiance’s egg. (When the two were together, they had signed an agreement regarding using the eggs only with permission from both of them, but there wasn’t any discussion on what might happen if they split.) Vergara, as owner of said egg(s), is (naturally and understandably) refusing to release her eggs.

I wanted to find out of there was a precedent set for IVF egg custody. According to “Chicago Lawyer” magazine, there are no definitive laws or one-approach-fits-all (yet), but 10 states so far have made rules regarding IVF custody and procedure cases.

One big commonality between a lot of these approaches is an issue familiar to sexuality: consent. Courts are generally weighing the desires of each partner, called “balance of interests.” This can be applied if one partner wants to use the eggs, but the other doesn’t want that person to use them. Iowa takes a “co-consent” approach, in that both parties must agree to “sign off when the embryo is implanted in the woman.”

Contracts guide decisions in other states. In these instances, courts rely on “contracts drawn up by the couple before the embryos were created.”  New York, Washington, Texas and Oregon follow this method.

Some states take a blended approach (kind of like a blended orgasm). Tennessee, New Jersey and Pennsylvania first look for existing contracts between both parties before moving on to consent.

Other states are complete outliers in their approach. Iowa has “contemporaneous-mutual-consent,” which is a written agreement that states that both parties must sign off on use of the embryos. Massachusetts is another outlier, stating that the woman receives custody of the embryos in event of divorce.

Vergara and Loeb’s situation may bring attention to this dilemma shared by other ex-couples, and it could drive inquiries and move future legislation forward. We’ll have to see how it plays out.

 

Trojan 2014 Sexual Health Report Card: By The Numbers

Trojan 2014 Sexual Health Report Card (via Twitter)

Trojan 2014 Sexual Health Report Card (via Twitter)

Earlier this year, Trojan (the condom brand, duh) released its 2014 Sexual Health Report Card. Now in its ninth year, the Report Card measures sexual health resources for 140 colleges selected from the Bowl Championship Series. Scoring categories include student health centers’ access to quality information, STI and HIV testing and condom and contraceptive availability, among other points.

This year, PAC-12 school Oregon State wrested the #1 spot from Princeton University. As the Report Card notes, the top spot has typically vacillated between the Ivy League and the Big Ten. The PAC-12 also took spots #4 (University of Arizona) and #5 (Stanford) in the top 10.

I wanted to see if there were any discernible patterns within the data, so I crunched some numbers and played with some pivot tables.

By College Conference:

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: College Conferences

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: College Conferences

The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) took the top spot for conferences with 15 entries, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) came in tied second with the Big Ten with 14 entries each. The Mid-American and PAC-12 conferences each have 12. Conference USA boasts 11 schools, and the American, Big 12 and Mountain West schools each have 10 schools.

The ACC, SEC and Ivy League all had each of its schools place within the rankings.

 

By School Type:

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: School Type

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: School Type

Over 76% of ranked schools were public schools, and 22% of schools were private. Ivies comprised over 25% of private schools listed.

Virginia Tech was categorized as public and military, and University of Pittsburgh was public and private.

 

By State:

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: States

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: States

Texas boasts 11 schools ranked, while Ohio has eight schools for second place. California and Florida tie with seven schools each. Louisiana has six, and Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York and North Carolina each have five schools represented.

On the other end of the scale, several states are one-hit wonders: Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., and Wyoming.

By Region:

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: Region

Trojan Sexual Health Report Card 2014: Region

Here’s something interesting: The South makes up 42%+ of the report’s regional breakdown. I didn’t expect that considering the region’s traditionally rocky relationship with sex education.

By contrast, the Northeast comprises only 14%+.

 

Past Winners:

In the report card’s nine years of age, Ivy League schools have taken the crown four times: Yale (2006, inaugural year), Columbia (2010 and 2011), and Princeton (2013).

Columbia and Princeton have previously topped the list despite not having school-wide Sex Weeks.

Some previous winners have precipitously descended the list since their banner year. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities made #1 in 2007, but has since slid to #24, a rate of 2.8+ spots per year. University of South Carolina-Columbia topped the list in 2009, and is now 29, sliding down the list at a much faster 5+ spots a year. Yale descended to #44 this year, sliding the fastest at 5.3+ spots per year.

 

Interesting Outliers:

Despite Trojan’s claim to show schools from all 50 states in their report, Alaska is conspicuously absent.

Only one HBCU (historically black college or university) made the cut: Savannah State University in Savannah, Georgia. The school came in at #133. Savannah State has made the list before, ranking #134 in 2013.

Indiana University-Bloomington checks in at #36. This wouldn’t be weird except the university houses the Kinsey Institute. You’d think sexual health would be a priority considering it’s apparently lucrative research.

 

Methodology:

Trojan outlined the criteria they look for within the report (and even leave room for extra credit), and they’ve ranked schools on a 4.0 scale before. I’d like to learn more transparency about how the different factors were selected and weighted in terms of priority.

One weird thing was that the University of Alabama was listed twice, ranked both #30 and #120. This was confusing and will need to be corrected for future report cards.

 

Final Thoughts:

I’d love to see more diversity of school represented. It’d be great to see other HBCUs (Spelman, Morehouse, etc.) and art schools (Pratt Institute, RISD, etc.). The National Center for Education Statistics puts the number of four-year colleges at 2.8K+ (as of 2010-2011), and it’d be fantastic to see a wider swath of schools surveyed.

 

 

Google Trends: “Vanilla Sex” vs. “Kinky Sex”

One image result from Googling 'kinky sex'

One image result from Googling ‘kinky sex’

I wanted to see how many times kinky sex was searched for online, so I decided to do a Google Trends comparison. I used “vanilla sex” as a search term since I figured that using plain “sex” would be too broad for my question. I searched only within the U.S. and used 2004-present as my timeframe.

Google Trends 'Vanilla Sex' vs. 'Kinky Sex'

Google Trends ‘Vanilla Sex’ vs. ‘Kinky Sex’

Surprisingly, the “vanilla sex” results (blue line) were much smaller than the “kinky sex” results (red line). My guess is that nobody really searches for vanilla sex (since you can get that pretty easily), and so people turn to the Internet to learn about kinky sex either for mere curiosity or are interested in pursuing it.

Let’s look at the results breakdown:

“Vanilla Sex” by Subregion:

'Vanilla Sex' by Subregion

‘Vanilla Sex’ by Subregion

Illinois heads up this list, with Pennsylvania and Michigan tying for second with 96%, and Massachusetts and New Jersey tying for fifth with 92%. New York places third with 94%, while California achieves 89% in ninth place. Texas brings up the rear with 86%.

“Vanilla Sex” by Metro:

'Vanilla Sex' by Metro

‘Vanilla Sex’ by Metro

Yeah, this doesn’t look comprehensive. I find it very hard to believe that New York is the only metro area Googling “vanilla sex,” considering I found that the same metro area was madly Googling sexy Halloween costumes last month.

Unless it’s a case where the numbers need to hit a certain threshold to become visible, this does not look viable. At all.

“Vanilla Sex” by City:

'Vanilla Sex' by City

‘Vanilla Sex’ by City

Chicago unsurprisingly tops this list, considering how Illinois topped the subregion list. New York and Los Angeles sit at third with 83% and fourth with 79%, respectively. Seattle, Atlanta and Houston have a three-way (heh) tie with 73%. San Francisco closes out the list with 57%, the lowest I’ve seen so far in doing these Google Trends.

 

“Kinky Sex” by Subregion:

'Kinky Sex' by Subregion

‘Kinky Sex’ by Subregion

Here’s where it gets interesting: All of the top states score at least 87%, which means these states have a big interest in kinky sex (nothing wrong with that, of course). Cueing the jokes about the South, Kentucky tops this list, with West Virginia a close second at 98%.

“Kinky Sex” by Metro:

'Kinky Sex' by Metro

‘Kinky Sex’ by Metro

Missouri’s St. Louis and Kansas City appear at #1 with 100% and #3 with 90%, respectively. Charlotte, NC sits between them with 92%.

Aside from that, the rest of the metro areas are scattered among Texas, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Ohio, California, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“Kinky Sex” by City:

'Kinky Sex' by City

‘Kinky Sex’ by City

Southern cities Tampa and Atlanta tie for first, with St. Louis coming in at third with 95%. The rest of the lis is scattered geographically.

 

Conclusions:

It’s difficult to draw any concrete conclusions from the findings. It appears that Googling kinky sex is widespread and not limited to any particular region, metro area and/or city.

Google Trends: “Halloween Costumes” vs. “Sexy Halloween Costumes”

Sexy Elsa 'Frozen' Costume

Sexy Elsa ‘Frozen’ Costume

In celebration of Halloween being my favorite holiday, I’ll be crunching some data about it in the upcoming days. Enjoy!

 

With Halloween coming up on Friday (!!!), I was curious about how the recent Google searches reflected the all-important costume search. Google Trends to the rescue!

I searched “Halloween costumes” (blue line) against “sexy Halloween costumes” (red line) for the U.S. during the past 30 days (Sept. 27-Oct. 27, 2014), with the following results:

Google Trends: 'Halloween Costumes' vs. 'Sexy Halloween Costumes'

Google Trends: ‘Halloween Costumes’ vs. ‘Sexy Halloween Costumes’

Unsurprisingly, the search for sexy Halloween costumes, while small, still made an impression. But I would’ve predicted it would’ve been a fair bit larger.

Now, the fun part! Let’s look at each of these searches by subregion (in this case, state), metro and city.

 

“Halloween Costumes” by Subregion:

'Halloween Costumes' by Subregion

‘Halloween Costumes’ by Subregion

States with larger populations make a strong showing here: Wyoming, West Virginia, North Dakota, Montana and South Dakota descend from 100% to 86%. Notable conservative state Utah appears at 78%.

 “Halloween Costumes” by Metro:

'Halloween Costumes' by Metro

‘Halloween Costumes’ by Metro

Pennsylvania areas Wilkes Barre-Scranton (100%) and Pittsburgh (92%) take the top two spots. Salt Lake City reappears with 87%. New York takes up two consecutive entries with Albany-Schenectady-Troy with 85%, and Buffalo with 83%.

 “Halloween Costumes” by City:

'Halloween Costumes' by City

‘Halloween Costumes’ by City

Here we have something I haven’t seen before: a tie! Westland, Michigan and Omaha, Nebraska both sit at the top with 100%.

Other points of interest: Major US cities make the list further down. Los Angeles clocks in at #8 with 82%, and Washington, D.C. appears next with 81%. Also the first non-Lower 48 city appeared at #10: Honolulu with 81%.

 

“Sexy Halloween Costumes” by Subregion:

'Sexy Halloween Costumes' by Subregion

‘Sexy Halloween Costumes’ by Subregion

Third most-populous state New York sets the pace at 100%. (Most-populated state California enters the race halfway down the list at #5 with 88%.) Michigan and Florida tie with 92%, with Pennsylvania hot on their heels at 91%. Second-most populated state Texas clocks in at #9 with 79%.

“Sexy Halloween Costumes” by Metro:

'Sexy Halloween Costumes' by Metro

‘Sexy Halloween Costumes’ by Metro

I’ve never seen this before: only one entry. It’s New York, the most-populated metro area. Clearly, everyone in the greater New York City area is searching for sexy Halloween costumes…right?

“Sexy Halloween Costumes” by City:

'Sexy Halloween Costumes' by City

‘Sexy Halloween Costumes’ by City

Interesting that the greater New York metro area is searching for sexy Halloween costumes more than the city’s residents themselves. But everyone in Los Angeles, the city proper, is Googling sexy costumes. Also of note is that all of these are very large cities (compared with the basic “Halloween costumes” search, which had smaller cities top the list).

 

Conclusions:

I didn’t expect this, but the “Halloween costumes” vs. “sexy Halloween costumes” searches tend to break down along urban/rural-ish lines. Those searching for “Halloween costumes” have tended to be from less-populated areas, whereas those Googling “sexy Halloween costumes” seem to be coming from more urban areas and making larger impacts.

 

Texas’s First Trans Homecoming King

Texas homecoming king Mel

Texas homecoming king Mel

Recently, high school student Mel won the title of his school’s homecoming king. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it?

But it actually is: Mel is the first transgender student to win the title in the entire state of Texas.

This is big considering the fact that Texas isn’t known as the most tolerant state. As “The Cutnotes, “it’s one of 32 states where a person can be fired for being openly transgender, and one of 29 states where you can fired for being openly gay or lesbian.” (“The Cut” also has a more detailed account of Mel’s story.)

But this shows that attitudes are changing, starting with the youth. I can’t wait to see how Texas, and other states, progress.